Reform of Albanian University Funding Denounced

3 June 2014

Students from the Polytechnic University and the University of Tirana protested on Monday against the new proposed scheme to finance higher education.

Gjergj Erebara BIRN Tirana

Students rally in front of the government office, Monday, May 19 | Photo by : Besar Likmeta

Students and faculty members gathered in front of the Albanian government offices in Tirana to denounce planned reforms to higher education, which they say will hurt public universities to the benefit of private colleges.

“We are protesting against tariff increases, student loans and against [the proposal] to finance private universities with public money,” Jani Marka, a professor at the Polytechnic University, said.

“We want a real reform of education, initiated by students and professors,” he added.

Using banners with catchy phrases and satire, students called for the dismissal of an ad-hoc commission for the reform of higher education and for the government to reject its proposals.

“We are students, not customers,” and “The university belongs to the students and not to the merchants,” the protesters chanted.

The Commission created by Prime Minister Edi Rama in January has proposed a new financial scheme whereby both private and public universities will compete for government funds based on an independent rating system.

Critics say the commission’s decision to open the door for private universities to access taxpayers’ money will weaken the public higher educational system.

Writing on Facebook, Artan Fuga, a professor of philosophy at the University of Tirana, said the scheme was unfair both to taxpayers and public education.

“The members of the commission do not represent public universities,” Fuga wrote. The planned changes would “keep the profit private, but make the financial burden public”, he added.

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